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ALGER LEARNING CENTER & INDEPENDENCE HIGH SCHOOL

121 Alder Dr., Sedro-Wooley, WA. 98284 • 1-800-595-2630 • www.independent-learning.com
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Review by Linda Foster

For 25 years, the Alger Learning Center and Independence High School has facilitated student learning through freedom in education. Alger Learning Center & Independence High School is a non-curriculum-based, student-centered school designed to foster self-direction, self-motivation, and self-esteem.

Alger Learning Center & Independence High School is committed to freedom in learning, and it provides through its various program options an educational environment where that freedom may be nurtured and prosper.

Alger Learning Center & Independence High School offers a variety of services including a local assisted learning program, national and international distance learning programs, homeschool and unschooling assistance, and a homeschool/”umbrella” program for homeschool families seeking validation of their work. Also offered are annual assessments, on-site tutoring, an innovative experience-based adult high school completion program, and a Satellite School program that assists educators in setting up and administering their own affiliate schools around the world.

Both the Local and Distance Learning programs begin with completion of a series of  diagnostic testing, questionnaires and pertinent activities to assist students and parents in identifying and defining student goals and designing an individualized curriculum to meet those goals based on personal interests, background and aptitudes. Students in the local program meet with their teacher/consultant an average of once a week to review progress and determine if curriculum changes need to be made. As with students enrolled in the local program, those enrolled in the Distance Learning program participate in designing an individualized curriculum known as a Learning Contract. The primary difference between the two programs is that the Distance Learning program does not require the four hours per month of attendance that the Local program requires. Instead, the ALC staff role changes from instructor to facilitator leaving parents and students primarily responsible for all materials and lesson plans. ALC facilitators perform followup and assessment duties.

The Recognition/Umbrella Program is designed to enhance freedom by empowering families to develop their own learning philosophy and style. ALC offers validation, transcript services and an official high school diploma when all state requirements for graduation have been met. Services of this program are offered to distance and local homeschoolers and independent learners. In this program, ALC acts as an “umbrella school” for home- and unschooling families who neither need nor want assistance developing curricula or monitoring and evaluating the learning process. ALC staff is available for assistance if desired, but does not interfere with the education process. Contact with students and parents occurs primarily at the times of course selection and course completion when brief consultations and advice might occasionally be necessary. Students and parents furnish ALC with all documentation for the courses, resources, and method(s) of evaluation, so ALC can validate the learning that is taking place and justify the credits earned to satisfy state requirements. Based on the documentation provided, ALC maintains current transcripts and issues official diplomas.

One additional program offered by Alger Learning Center is its Satellite School Program which allows creative teachers to have their own schools that support independent learning, homeschooling, unschooling, and life-long learning. This innovative program is designed for teachers who are dedicated, creative, flexible, and totally student-centered, and who may also be “at odds” with a compulsory, overcrowded, curriculum-based and overstructured learning environment. ALC provides a teacher training program that is considered to be an “ongoing process.” All ALC Satellite School teachers are expected to familiarize themselves with homeschooling laws and educational guidelines for their particular states. Satellite teachers are also encouraged to explore interdisciplinary education and the philosophy of freedom in learning.

The belief of the Alger Learning Center & Independence High School is that all students can experience successful learning, given the freedom to do so in whatever manner works best for them. Since 1981, ALC students have been given the opportunity to design and guide their own educational futures. While the approach of ALC is decidedly different from the mainstream, it has proven time and again to be effective. Graduates of the various ALC programs have been accepted by many colleges and universities, including Amherst College, Evergreen State College, the Julliard School, Sarah Lawrence College, the Seattle Art Institute, St. John University, the University of Tokyo, the University of London, the University of Washington, Washington State University and a host of other prestigious institutions of higher learning.

By individualizing learning programs based on each student's learning gifts, learning differences, or both, ALC enables them to develop the tools for a lifetime of independent learning. The goal of ALC has been, and continues to be, to enable all students to experience success and achieve knowledge with a high degree of self-esteem.

For additional information on the exceptional programs offered by the Alger Learning Center & Independence High School, please visit their website at www.independent-learning.comL.F.

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